The Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
Station PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC V8W 9E1
31 August 2017
Re: Moratorium on logging to protect endangered Wells Gray caribou herd
Dear Premier Horgan:
I am writing on behalf of the Upper Clearwater Referral Group to ask you to establish a moratorium on industrial-scale forestry near southern Wells Gray Provincial Park. The purpose of this request is to protect a key population of endangered Southern Mountain Caribou from extinction.
More specifically, the Referral Group is concerned that federally designated Critical Habitat for Caribou under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) is being destroyed by on-going logging permitted by FLNRO – and that this logging now threatens the survival and recovery of the south Wells Gray herd.
The south Wells Gray herd forms part of the second largest remaining population of Southern Mountain Caribou and the largest to exist predominantly within a protected area. Unfortunately, the past 16 years of environmental deregulation under the B.C. Liberals has devastated this herd, resulting in its reduction by half during the past decade alone, as outlined in the attached graph.
The B.C. Liberals entrusted the future of the Mountain Caribou to costly stop-gap measures like caribou birthing pens, translocation programmes, intensive moose and deer hunts, and, most controversially, wolf and cougar. At the same time they did little to address the root causes of Mountain Caribou decline, that is, oldgrowth fragmentation and loss of critical habitat to logging. By now the trajectory is clear: as long as industrial-scale logging takes place adjacent to existing protected areas like Wells Gray Park, Mountain Caribou are doomed.
In April 2017, the Upper Clearwater Referral Group was signatory to an application for an Emergency Protection Order under section 80 of Canada’s Species at Risk Act, sent for review to the attention of Minister McKenna. The impetus for this action was the intention of Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) to undertake extensive cutting in federally designated critical habitat for caribou near southern Wells Gray. In May 2017, CANFOR did in fact cut 180 hectares here (https://tinyurl.com/canadiansforcaribou). Later, it signalled its intention to log 50 additional cutblocks in the critical habitat for caribou (http://services.forsite.ca/kamloops_tsa/). An overview of recent and proposed logging in the Upper Clearwater Valley immediately adjacent to the park appears below.
You will be aware that a federal emergency order under section 80 of SARA allows the federal government to take over management of the habitat of a listed species where provincial management has been ineffective in achieving the survival and recovery of the species. It is the position of the Referral Group that the former B.C. Liberal government was egregiously ineffective in protecting the critical habitat of the Wells Gray caribou against CANFOR’s aggressive clearcutting within designated critical habitat.
To put the current plight of the south Wells Gray caribou herd into context, we note that the boundaries of Wells Gray Park have twice been extended southward to better protect caribou habitat: in 1955 by W.A.C. Bennett on behalf of Social Credit, and in 1997 by Glen Clark on behalf of NDP. In contrast, the B.C. Liberals under Gordon Campbell and later Christy Clark signed over professional oversight of clearcut logging to the corporations themselves, in effect putting CANFOR in charge of its own decisions to log within critical habitat for caribou bordering the park.
The Referral Group applauds your government’s commitment to enact a provincial Species at Risk Act and we look forward to the bill being presented in the Fall session of the Legislature. Meanwhile, the Referral Group urges you to declare a moratorium on industrial-scale logging in the vicinity of southern Wells Gray Park until such time as the south Wells Gray herd shows definite signs of recovery. The moratorium area should, we feel, be situated within lands federally designated as ‘critical habitat’ on page 87 of the 2014 SARA report, Recovery Strategy for the Woodland Caribou, Southern Mountain population.
More information can be found here: https://1000clearcuts.ca .
Trevor Goward (spokesperson, Upper Clearwater Referral Group)
1 The Upper Clearwater Referral Group is a citizen committee established on 22 November 2000 by the B.C. Ministry of Forests (MoF) to ensure adherence to a formal, government-sponsored Local Use agreement called the Guiding Principles for the Management of Land and Resources in the Upper Clearwater Valley. The Guiding Principles agreement was signed into effect by MoF on 19 May 1999, but later quietly dropped by the B.C. Liberal government during transition to the Forest and Range Practices Act.
Hon. George Heyman, Minister of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
Hon. Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development
Hon. Andrew Weaver, Leader of Green Party